Tuesday 7 October 2014 9:48 am

Where is the best place to shop in the UK? Westfield London tops new retail index

Catherine Neilan is head of politics and investigations at City A.M.

Catherine Neilan is head of politics and investigations at City A.M.

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Where is the best place to go shopping in the country? And where should you avoid? 
According to a new index, which ranks retail centres by a range of measures including how appropriate the retail mix is to its local customer, Westfield London is the best place in the UK for shopping, with Chelsea coming second and Knightsbridge third. 
In fact, eight of the top 10 centres are in central or Greater London. Cambridge and Bath were the only two out-of-towners to make it, beating London's West End, Westfield Stratford, Edinburgh and Manchester's Trafford Centre, though these were all in the top 20. 
And where should you avoid if you're looking to go on a spending spree? Well, the West Midlands city of Dudley has emerged as the worst retail centre in the UK, followed by Llanelli and Morecombe. 
Surprisingly, affluent cities including Bristol and Brighton had suburbs that appeared in the bottom 10, along with two coastal Kent cities – Dover and Folkestone. 
In the so-called vitality index, put together by property consultancy Harper Dennis Hobbs (HDH), retail centres get plus points for attracting luxury or premium retailers into the mix and get points deducted for the number of payday loan stores, betting shops, e-cigarette shops, pawn brokers and charities. 
Vacancy rates are also taken into account, although as HDH's head of retail consultancy Jonathan De Mello points out, that is not always a straightforward indicator. 
He says: "Significant media focus is often placed on vacancy rates and the change in these over time. However a reduction in vacancy rates is not always positive if those vacant units are filled with what could be perceived to be ‘out of fashion’ tenants."
Want to know how your hometown fares? Here is a map of the top 10 centres, below is a map of the bottom 10, and under that is a handy table for the full 500 retail centres up and down the UK.